Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. I wish I did...but I don't. They belong to J.K. Rowling. Oh, wait...I guess I DO own Fitzpickle, but he doesn't really count. A VERY special thanks to Flourish for editing this for me! And to all my crazy weirdo friends of the Amoeba for being....well....crazy weirdo people. And the song "What Might Have Been" belongs to Little Texas......to tell you the truth, this is NOT a song fic. I wrote the fic, and then suddenly decided to put a line from the song in here, because it seemed to fit.

So try not to think about what might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again
There's no use giving in
And there's no way to know.....
What might have been.



Professor McGonagall sat in front of an open tower window in her bedroom, breathing in the cool air of an April night. Without warning, a rather large owl swooped into the room, dropping a paper into the witch's lap. She raised an eyebrow slightly; it wasn't usual to get letters at this time of the evening.

A slow smile spread across her face as she read the note, a request for her to please keep an eye on a certain boy in her house who had just recently gotten over a nasty bout of spiderpox. She folded the note back up, glancing again at the name of the parent it was from.

A memory flashed suddenly through her mind, the feelings it brought back startling her. It had been a night a lot like this.....cool, but not too cold, with the sweet smell of early flowers wafting through Hogwarts.....so many years ago....

~*~*~*~*~*~

A thirteen-year-old Minerva McGonagall sat on the steps to the entrance of Hogwarts, enjoying the view of the sunset across the lake. She glanced up as someone sat down beside her, and smiled when she saw who it was. "Hi."

"Hi.....we need to talk." the boy said, looking slightly uncomfortable. His tone caused her heart to drop slightly, but she tried to appear nonchalant.

"Oh?"

"Minerva....you're a very sweet girl, and I like you a lot....but I just don't think it's going to work out." he said gently.

She bit her tongue to keep from crying out in protest, from telling him they could make it work. After several moments of silence, she nodded crisply. "Very well, then." she said, no trace of emotion on her face.

He looked hesitant, as if afraid to hurt her. "So....no hard feelings?" he asked, chewing on his bottom lip. The lock of red hair brushing over his green eyes made him look particularly boyish....and forgivable.

With a polite smile, Minerva stood up, hiding the pain in her eyes from the boy sitting there on the steps. "Of course not. See you tomorrow, Arthur."

~*~*~*~

That afternoon found her in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, studying her reflection in a cracked mirror through red-rimmed eyes. "It isn't fair..." she muttered quietly, dabbing at her eyes with a damp paper towel in an attempt to make them less puffy.

"Life isn't fair. Neither is death, for that matter." came a gloomy voice from one of the stalls. Minerva sighed, rolling her eyes slightly.

"Yeah, Myrtle, I know...I know...but can't you just let me complain in peace?"

Myrtle made an offended 'hmph' sound, but didn't comment further. Throwing the paper towel away, Minerva looked in the mirror again. She saw a thin girl with long, straight dark hair and square-rimmed glasses framing her gray eyes. Not overly pretty, but not exactly ugly, for that matter. She sighed again and went out into the hall, making her way up to Gryffindor tower. However, she was interrupted just as she was about to tell the password to the Fat Lady...

"Oh, Minnie, I just heard!!! I'm soooooo sorry!" squealed a high-pitched voice. Minerva groaned aloud; she DETESTED being referred to as 'Minnie', especially by people who weren't her friends, yet the annoying Ravenclaw fifth-year that the voice belonged to always called her that.

"Hello, Rita. What exactly have you heard?" she said as politely as she could under the present circumstances.

Rita let out a dramatic gasp, smacking on a large wad of bubble gum all the while. "You mean you didn't KNOW that Arthur Weasley asked Molly Finneran to go with him? Why, it happened a whole five minutes ago! I was hiding - ....er...that is, I had lost something behind some bushes, and I overheard the whole scene!" She paused to blow a large purple bubble, savoring the slightly shocked look that Minerva wore upon hearing this bit of information. "Oh, you poor thing, I can't believe he would have the nerve to ask her the same afternoon he dumped you!" she babbled gushingly, unable to keep her eyes from sparkling slightly with the delight of such juicy new gossip.

"I was not dumped. We broke up." Minerva said in a dignified tone, raising her chin slightly in defiance. "Things just weren't working out."

Rita looked slightly crestfallen at this news, but shrugged and flounced off down the hall. "Whatever you say, Minnie." she called over her shoulder.

With a frustrated sigh, Minerva gave the password to the Fat Lady, who wisely kept her mouth shut about the whole situation. The Gryffindor common room was practically deserted; it was getting late. Going to the girls' dormitory, Minerva was slightly annoyed to see Molly Finneran was still gone. "He never stayed out this late with me..." she thought with slight irritation, then sighed and went to bed.

~*~*~*~

"Minerva? Are you awake?" a voice whispered from outside her bedcurtains late that night. She sat up and parted the curtains, fumbling for her glasses.

"Hello, Molly." she said to the shadowy figure.

Molly Finneran was just about everything Minerva McGonagall wasn't. Short, and a tad on the plump side, but not overly heavy, with flaming red hair and sparkling brown eyes. She almost always had a dimpled smile on her face, never the serious, stern look Minerva was apt to wear.

"You're not angry with me, are you?" Molly asked apprehensively, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I mean.....well, you know."

"No, I'm not angry." Minerva answered truthfully. It was hard to be mad at the ever-cheerful fifth-year.

Molly nodded, looking relieved. "Good....and I am sorry...but..." She paused, fidgeting slightly with a thin bracelet she wore around her left wrist. "I love him, Minerva." she confessed quietly.

"Then I'm happy for you both."

Without warning, Molly quickly hugged the younger girl, who hesitated, then returned the hug awkwardly. "Thanks." the redhead said, retreating back to her own bed.

Minerva set her glasses back on the nightstand and drew the bedcurtains. She lay awake for a long time after that, thinking. Maybe thirteen was too young for romance. Besides, the only boy who had shown interest in her, except for Arthur, was that skinny Slytherin first-year, Lucius Malfoy; no way was she dating someone like him. She'd just wait a few years....no need to rush things....

~*~*~*~

A soft hoot from the owl pulled the present day McGonagall out of her memories. She sighed as she gave Fitzpickle a small fieldmouse, watching as the gray and white owl flew out the window. She had told herself to wait a few years......those few years had turned into twenty-eight, and although she had dated a bit, she never found the right wizard. Of course, she was normally satisfied with her life: she loved Hogwarts, teaching, and most of the students, even those that were frustrating at times. Looking back, it seemed foolish now that she had cried over Arthur Weasley, when he so obviously belonged with Molly.

What would life have been like, had she married Arthur? Or anyone else, for that matter. She tried picturing herself as a homemaker with a houseful of children and nearly laughed aloud. No...that sort of life was suited to someone like Molly, a natural mother. Minerva knew she wasn't a mother. She loved children, but couldn't deal with them in everyday life... so she was a teacher, and it was true: That was all she wanted to be.